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Canalys: Apple was back on top of the global smartphone market in Q4

Apple is back on top, having shipped the most smartphones out of any maker in Q4 last year. Previously, the company regained second place in Q3, now it has overtaken Samsung to secure the #1 spot. This is all thanks to the strong performance of the iPhone 13 series, of course.

In fact, analysts from Canalys called iPhone shipments in Mainland China “unprecedented”. Apple’s supply chain is recovering, but it still couldn’t produce enough iPhones to meet the demand, so it had to prioritize some markets over others.

Canalys: Apple was back on top of the global smartphone market in Q4

The Cupertino-based company isn’t the only one struggling with supply. Canalys warns that the major foundries will take years to expand its chip production capacity. This is why smartphone makers have increasingly had to look for new suppliers and to rebalance their product lineups to focus on the best-selling models.

Worldwide smartphone shipments and growth Canalys Preliminary Smartphone Market Pulse: Q4 2021
VendorQ4 2020 market shareQ4 2021 market share
Apple 23.00%22.00%
Preliminary estimates are subject to change upon final release
Note: percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
Note: OnePlus is included in OPPO shipments from Q4 2021
Source: Canalys estimates (sell-in shipments), Smartphone Analysis, January 2022

Samsung, which held the top spot in Q1, Q2 and Q3, dropped to second place, but it is closer to Apple than in was in the final quarter of 2020. This is a natural cycle for Apple – new iPhones launch in September or November and lead to a spike in sales, then things settle down.

However, in Q4 2020 Apple and Samsung controlled 23% and 17% of the market, respectively, in Q4 2021 the numbers were 22% and 20%. Xiaomi, Oppo and vivo (which round off the Top 5) are within a percentage point of where they were a year ago.

The supply chain issues hampered market growth, so the quarterly shipments for Q4 last year were just 1% higher than the same period in 2020. Component shortages will only start to ease off in the second part of this year, predict the analysts.


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